Wolverine is one of the iconic characters in both the Marvel Universe as well as the 20th Century Fox’s movies; so is his Adamantium claws and healing factor. An immortal and living through ages he does have a lot of stories ready to be told through movies/comics. We did get an Origin movie, X-Men Origins Wolverine which was panned by critics and audiences alike. But I felt it was trashed more than it deserved to be. It had loads of action and bits from the original Wolverine Origin story arc but it did trash the character for the sake of being an action-heavy summer blockbuster. A weak script, irrelevant characters and a stupid take on ‘the merc with a mouth’ underwhelmed the audiences. Anyways The Wolverine salvages some of its lost prestige putting a lot of focus on the core character.
Rumors that Darren Aronofsky’d be helming the new Wolverine had me excited but the director’s chair was handed over to James Mangold in the end. I am not skeptic at all regarding Mangold’s directing prowess, as evident from gems like 3:10 to Yuma, Walk the line and Identity. But I was wondering how he’d handle a superhero flick. After watching it, its safe to say Mangold’s direction is far better than what I’d expected it to be.
The Wolverine is undoubtedly based on Frank Miller’s take on the superhero and I was already familiar with the names Mariko, Shingen and Yukio. It all came like a whiff of fresh air. The Wolverine is sort of a reboot for the series and a brilliant stepping stone for a new franchise which could tell a parallel story to the X-Men movies. Although it has its roots attached to the previous flicks, we are dropped into the midst of Wolverine’s story. There aint no origin, there aint no ‘Previously’; instead we are just dropped into a narrative which ploughs forward to the thick of Japan. The Wolverine could be compared to treatment our superheros been getting recently. He’s been stripped off his healing factors and he is left like so almost the entire movie and it does bring out some tension. I mean when he had the healing power, we knew he wouldn’t just die even if she’s split into two (admit it!)
The Wolverine is directed well and so was it well written and the action sequences well choreographed but its not without its flaws though. As mentioned above The Wolverine still has the debris it’s carried on from X-Men The Last Stand and I wasn’t pleased with it. Wolverine has flashbacks of his lost love? Seriously? Isn’t it time his healing factor took care of that already? I mean its the god-damn Wolvie we’re talking about here. Jean Grey’s flashbacks (more like boring nightmares and more than once) kept crawling into the plot disrupting the pace and I just didn’t like it. Ofcourse Wolverine is tormented from what he’d done in the past but that doesn’t mean, we the audience need to be tormented from start to end. The Japan setting was a bit distracting as well and maybe thats a personal thing. I am not a big fan of Martial arts movies and there was an excess of martial arts settings and jargon here in the movie though it all did look good. Props were fantastic and the action sequences thick, especially the Bullet Train sequence is something to gape at.
Hugh Jackman effortlessly steps into his Wolverine shoes for the 6th time and having worked with Mangold in Kate & Leopold did wonders for The Wolverine. This is the Logan we’ve all praised and been used to and Hugh easily slides into the role and storyline straight from X-Men The Last Stand albeit forgetting X-Men Origins Wolverine. But then again playing Wolverine would have become second instinct for Hugh by now. Supporting cast couldnt be praised for the same, most of them being just bait for the plot. Especially Wolverine love interest in the movies, I felt they had absolutely no chemistry. Rila Fukushima did an absolutely splendid job playing Yukio. I had huge expectations for Svetlana Khodchenkova who played the only other mutant in the movie, Viper but she just served for some eyecandy and wasnt even fleshed up to be a proper antagonist.
For what its worth, The Wolverine is a splendid action movie which concentrates more on the character and the plot than heavy heavy action sequences. If you are an X-Men/Wolverine fan you are gonna love it and please do stay back after the credits coz there is a monumental end-credit to be seen there.